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Interview with Angela Chadwick

Interview with Angela Chadwick

New Zealand’s native bush is a dark, quiet, powerful place thick with unique trees, plants and herbs. Many of these beautiful botanicals are found nowhere else in the world. Luckily, there is now a long history of their use by Maori and early European settlers, but this history had to be created over time as no-one knew what the healing powers of the many native plants and trees were.

When the team at BioBalance were looking to develop their newly-launched range of Herbal Detox products they saw the value of these native plants and wanted to bring them in to the formulations. To achieve this they chose to work with Angela Chadwick, a medical herbalist well experienced in the use of New Zealand native trees and plants. Angela trained at the South Pacific College of Natural Therapeutics and has become well known for her work through her herbal healing business, Self Heal. Her own range of local Swedish Bitters and New Zealand Bush Bitters has been used here for many years now.

Angela’s herbal story started early. “When I was a kid we’d go in to the bush. Dad knew all the trees and what they were for. I remember I was first convinced of their use when my sister was treated with all sorts of native barks and leaves.” She had received bad skin damage from DDT and no-one in the medical profession could fix it. “So eventually my parents turned to the Maori methods and she was slowly healed with native plants. That’s what really convinced me of their use.”

Angela supplies five native trees and plants for the BioBalance detox products – harakeke (NZ flax), horopito, tanekaha, kawakawa and kumarahou. “Horopito helps with candida, kumarahou with asthma and respiratory ailments, kawakawa is a general kidney and liver tonic and harakeke works as a digestive and tonic,” Angela explained. Tanekaha helps skin conditions and is also a liver tonic. “And they all have many more actions as well,” she added. “I researched the traditional uses, and used the phytochemical register at the University of Auckland. I also did my own proving of some of the herbs and they all matched the traditional uses.”

Although Angela did all her own research on the use of New Zealand natives initially, her findings were confirmed on learning of the use of these plants by generations of Maori and, later, by Sister Suzanne Aubert at the Catholic Mission school and hospital at Hiruharama-Jerusalem on the Whanganui River in the late 1800s. She had studied botany in Paris in the 1850s before ‘running away’ to become a missionary in New Zealand.

Sister Suzanne Aubert became an expert in the use of many New Zealand native plants, working with local Maori, settler-farmers and orphaned children in an area where no other medical facilities were available. “I did not initially draw on her [Sister Suzanne’s] knowledge, I just happened upon her after doing my own research and realised she had used the same plants as I chose,” Angela added. It’s a lovely example of how a local tradition can build, layer on layer, from experiential use of local plants and herbs.

All the native herbs and plants that Angela uses are sourced in the wild; none are cultivated. But despite this she says their healing properties remain fairly constant regardless of their original location. She checks all the leaves after picking, then dries them – “sun is best, but otherwise in a dehumidifier or with a heater”, she says – and then powders them ready to use. At this point they are delivered to BioBalance for careful blending in the detox formulations.

Angela continues her herbal work near Gisborne. Her knowledge of New Zealand’s native trees and plants is a valuable resource and has contributed significantly to the development of a unique set of products in the BioBalance Herbal Detox range.

(C) Sue Farley BioBalance 2015